By Steve Rushton for Occupy – Michael Blesa, the president of Caja Madrid bank from 1996 to 2010, was sentenced to six years. Rato took over as President of Caja Madrid in 2010. The bank then merged with six other banks to form Bankia. In the sentencing in late February, Rato was found to have replicated the “corrupt system” established by Blesa. The politicians and banking executives are appealing the decision. The case indicts both the Spanish and international political financial systems. Rato was Spain’s Economy Minister between 1996 and 2004, working for Partido Popular, the same political party that orchestrated the bailout. He was later the Managing Director of the IMF, from 2004 to 2007, another body essential in coordinating the bank bailouts. He undertook these roles before spinning back through the revolving door into Spain’s banking industry.
By Claire Bernish for Activist Post – First, Iceland, and now Spain has taken on the Big Bankers responsible for financial calamity, as the country’s highest national court charged the former head of Spain’s central bank, a market regulator, and five other banking officials over a failed bank leading to the loss of millions of euros for smaller investors. This, of course, markedly departs from the mammoth taxpayer giveaway — commonly referred to as the bailout — approved by the U.S. government ostensibly to “save” the Big Banks and, albeit unstated, allow the enormous institutions to continue bilking customers without the slightest fear of penalty. Errant bankers and financiers, it would seem, typically manage to either evade actually being charged, or escape hefty fines and time behind bars. Spain’s Supreme Court last year ruled “serious inaccuracies” in information about the listing led investors to back Bankia in error, thus the bank has since paid out millions of euros in compensation.
By Denis Rogatyuk for Green Left – The left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos is planning to hold its second country-wide citizens’ assembly (Vistalegre II) on February 11th-12th to decide the political direction, organisational structure and its electoral strategy for the next regional and general elections. In the last several months, tensions have risen between the two major figures within Podemos — Pablo Iglesias and Iñigo Errejon, and their respective strategic visions of bring the organisation to power in the Spanish congress as the regional assemblies across the country. The party’s orientation towards state institutions (such as the mayoralties in Barcelona and Madrid), its relationship with the social movements
By Esther Ortiz for Equal TImes – “With the 15M movement the need arose to develop innovative ways of protesting and fighting in order to rally indignant citizens who were not activists, people who were ready to take to the streets but not in the traditional way. That is when the collective imagination emerged to mobilise them,” recalls Mónica Hidalgo, spokesperson for No Somos Delito, literally ‘We Are Not Crime’ in English. This citizens’ platform bringing together over 100 collectives came into being in 2012 in response to the first draft of the Penal Code reform, immediately followed by the Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana (Public Safety Law), both of which came into effect in July 2015.
By David Bollier for Shareable – On a visit to Barcelona last week, I learned a great deal about the city’s pioneering role in developing “the city as a commons.” I also learned that crystallizing a new commons paradigm — even in a city committed to cooperatives and open digital networks — comes with many gnarly complexities. The Barcelona city government is led by former housing activist Ada Colau, who was elected mayor in May 2015. She is a leader of the movement that became the political party Barcelona En Comú (“Barcelona in Common”). Once in office, Colau halted the expansion of new hotels, a brave effort to prevent “economic development” (i.e., tourism) from hollowing out the city’s lively, diverse neighborhoods.
By Staff of Ruptly TV – Over 10,000 people rallied against the TTIP, CETA and TISA trans-atlantic free trade agreements in Madrid, Saturday. Both NGO’s and local political groups took part in the huge march to protest against the multinational trade agreements. Protesters carried large banners with messages like ‘People and planet over multinational [corporations] – No to poverty, no to inequality, no to TTIP.’
By Harold Heckle for the Associated Press. Thousands of Spaniards marched in downtown Madrid to mark the fifth anniversary of a protest movement that led to the creation of Podemos, now Spain’s third most-popular political party. The Democracy Now platform had urged people to “occupy squares in all the world’s cities on Sunday” to protest austerity, corruption, high unemployment and a lack of transparency in government. Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square became the scene of a protest that lasted 28 days in 2011, sparking a movement that spread across Spain and similar “Occupy” sit-ins in cities across the world. The protests by those calling themselves “Indignados,” or people angered by Spain’s existing political parties, led to the emergence of Podemos, which will vie for power in a June 26 election.
By Staff of Mondoweiss – Cadiz, provincial capital in the autonomous community of Andalusia in the Spanish state, has become the latest municipality to pass a motion supporting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and declaring itself an Israeli “Apartheid Free Zone”. With a population of 120,000, Cadiz joins more than 50 cities and towns across the Spanish state which have voted to declare themselves spaces free from Israeli apartheid. Other famous Apartheid Free municipalities include Gran Canaria, Santiago de Compostela, Xixón-Gijón, Sevilla, Córdoba and Santa Eulària in Ibiza.
By Jorge Martín for In Defense of Marxism – The main reason for this is the fact that the civil war was won by the ruling class, which backed the fascist military uprising. The Franco dictatorship which followed it for about 40 years, was not overthrown but rather, the regime made a deal with the leaders of the workers’ parties in order to prevent its revolutionary overthrow. That led, through the swindle of the so-called Transition, to the bourgeois democracy which we’ve had for 40 years since 1976, one which has many birthmarks from the Franco regime.
By Staff of ROAR Magazine – Between myth and reality there lies a precarious zone of transition that occasionally captures the truth of each. Spain, caught in a world-historic revolution fifty years ago, was exactly such an occasion — a rare moment when the most generous, almost mythic dreams of freedom seemed suddenly to become real for millions of Spanish workers, peasants, and intellectuals. For this brief period of time, this shimmering moment, as it were, the world stood breathlessly still, while the red banners of revolutionary socialism and the red-and-black banners of revolutionary anarchosyndicalism…
By Simone Pieranni for Il Manifesto – When the meeting ended around 10 p.m. Friday, one of Unidos Podemos’ advisers in Madrid’s City Hall took back the mic and signaled for everyone to remain still: “They tell us that some members of the People’s Party have called the police to come here to denounce us because this may have been an illegal meeting, without permits.” A few people laughed. It was a clumsy attempt to discredit the rally. The man with the microphone shook his head and continued. “In fact, we do have permission, and we answer those ridiculous accusations like we always do: with a smile.” Applause.
By Oscar Reyes for Inequality – After weaker than expected results in Sunday’s election, Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Spanish Podemos Party, vowed to continue to push the young party’s ambitious anti-inequality and anti-austerity platform. Podemos and other smaller leftist parties in the coalition “Unidos Podemos” had been widely expected to come in second in the June 26 vote. Instead, in the aftermath of the UK’s destabilizing Brexit vote, the upstart party placed third after the two that have taken turns governing the country for four decades – the right-wing Popular Party (PP) and the center-left Socialist Workers Party (PSOE).
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – The Spanish anti-austerity political party Podemos has an interesting idea to make its new platform the “most-read manifesto ever produced”: put it in the form of an Ikea catalog. Across pages of photographs depicting the party’s leaders relaxing or working in their sun-dappled homes, Podemos outlines its proposals (pdf) on key political issues, covering familiar ground with plans to reduce unemployment and increase taxes on the wealthy.
By Dan Hancox for the Guardian. Ada Colau was there to discuss the housing crisis that had devastated Spain. Since the financial crisis, 400,000 homes had been foreclosed and a further 3.4m properties lay empty. In response, Colau had helped to set up a grassroots organisation, the Platform for Mortgage Victims (PAH), which championed the rights of citizens unable to pay their mortgages or threatened with eviction. Founded in 2009, the PAH quickly became a model for other activists, and a nationwide network of leaderless local groups emerged. Soon, people across Spain were joining together to campaign against mortgage lenders, occupy banks and physically block bailiffs from carrying out evictions. Ten minutes into Colau’s 40-minute testimony she broke from the script. Her voice cracking with emotion, she turned her attention to the previous speaker, Javier Rodriguez Pellitero, the deputy general secretary of the Spanish Banking Association: “This man is a criminal, and should be treated as such. He is not an expert. The representatives of financial institutions have caused this problem; they are the same people who have caused the problem that has ruined the entire economy of this country – and you keep calling them experts.”